Ah, the supremely simple pleasure of picking a ripe peach from the tree! Unfortunately, many who are used to this annual rite of summer will be disappointed this year, because a late freeze decimated the Hill Country crop. “We are looking at a 99.999 percent loss,” says James Kamas, of the Texas Cooperative Extension. The good news is that a few orchards in other parts of the state will have peaches to pick (see below). And many farms have other fruits for the plucking—strawberries, blackberries, blueberries—as well as plenty of fresh vegetables. (Go to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Web site, agr.state.tx.us, and click on “Pick Texas.”)
Since peaches are in short supply this season, be sure to call ahead before you set out. And don’t forget to wear long sleeves and a cap to avoid sunburn and limit your exposure to allergens, chemical residues—and bees. Hey, you’re not the only one who likes peaches.
ADAMEK ORCHARDS, in DeWitt County (361-293-7860; adamekorchards.com); from Yoakum, go west on Texas Highway 111 for 3.5 miles, then north on FM 966 for half a mile. This large operation will have early-season varieties, mostly clingstones, through May and Texprince semi-freestones from late May into June. Open daily from 7 to 7.
E&B ORCHARDS, in Waller County (979-826-6303); from Hempstead, take U.S. 290 northwest for 4 miles, turn right (north) on FM 1736 to Clarke Bottom Road, then turn left; the orchards are on the right. E&B is small and will have a limited number of varieties, with some freestones available from early June into July. Open daily from 8 to 5.
EAST TEXAS PEACH AND BERRY FARM, in Camp County (903-856-3779); from Pittsburg, head south on U.S. 271 for 3.8 miles. From early June through early July, this farm will have “a little bit of twenty-two different varieties,” says owner Albert Smith, with most peaches available the first two weeks of June. Open daily from 8 to 6.
MORATH ORCHARD, in Clay County on FM 171 west of Charlie; watch for signs (940-544-2223). The orchard, with some two thousand “well-thinned” trees—think fewer but larger peaches—will have freestone varieties (Sentinel, Ranger, Loring, Redskin) from around June 20 through July. Open daily from 8 to 6.
TUCKER’S FARM, in Clay County on FM 171 west of Charlie; watch for signs (940-544-2487). This place will have “a little bit of pick-your-own,” with about half of its usual crop of semi-freestones. Open daily from 8 to 6.